Le Petit loves to cook with me, even when "cooking" is simply dumping pre-measured cups of flour into bowls and pushing the buttons on the food processor under my strict supervision. I'm grateful for this simple activity together, because it keeps us both happily busy for an hour when we're stuck inside the apartment. Plus, a new batch of freshly-baked cookies adds to my relative feeling of accomplishment at the end of a weekday, even when the laundry remains unfolded, the birth announcements unmailed, and pine needles from the long-gone Christmas tree are creeping out of their hiding places to invade the living room floor.
Today we made pizza dough together. I thought that le Petit would adore kneading the dough and covering himself with flour, but once the measuring and counting was over, he tentatively patted the sticky, floury mound, then wiped his hands on his shirt and headed back to his Legos. Meanwhile, I felt like some sort of modern-day goddess of the hearth kneading dough and swaying back and forth with Mademoiselle curled up under my chin in the baby wrap.
Since I can't use the stove or the oven with a baby strapped to my chest, I plan our cooking projects for when Mademoiselle is reliably napping in her crib. However, 75% of her naps right now are in the wrap, and the rest of the time I never know how long the nap will last and I'll be hands-free. Today Mademoiselle woke up just as I was preparing to turn the dough onto the countertop. It'll be some time before le Petit and I attempt any delicate or time-sensitive recipes, like a soufflé.
Le Petit rarely eats anything we cook. As a young toddler, he ate everything, or almost: mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, risotto, quinoa. I don't know if I was smug, but I do know I took this luck for granted. Since then he's become progressively more picky, and he now typically only eats three vegetables (avocado, corn, and peas), one kind of cheese (parmesan), and carbohydrates in limited forms (crumpets, brioche, baguette with butter, and, naturally, pasta). He's better with fruits and animal protein, but nothing is a sure thing. He won't eat yogurt, or ice cream, or pretty much any form of potato, and yesterday he even turned his nose up at duck confit. Who wouldn't eat duck confit? I console myself that at least he doesn't eat junk food or munch mindlessly between meals. This must be the bad karma I deserve after many years of mocking parents of picky eaters before I became a mother myself.
Cooking with le Petit is part of my strategy to educate his unadventurous palate. I'm betting that the more he's involved in making the food we eat, the more curious he'll be to try it himself. So far I'm not seeing results at the dinner table, but I'm not without hope. Earlier this week le Petit grabbed a raw slice of sweet potato from the kitchen counter, popped it in his mouth, chewed, then spit it out in disgust. Today he took a huge bite out of a half of an onion that was waiting to be sliced. Both times he made a face, and both times I was floored by his sudden and bizarre curiosity.
My husband's strategy is to take him to the local market, point out everything under the sun, and let him choose what he'd like to try. He's having better luck so far.
The pizza was delicious and I was almost happy I only had to share it with my husband. Le Petit and I paged through a cookbook together and I showed him all of the recipes with pictures, hoping to happen upon something that would interest him. He pointed at every one and said earnestly that yes, he wanted to make it. Right away. Tout de suite. But did he want to eat it? Non. That's for maman et papa, he insisted.
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Here's an unrelated question for any readers of my blog who are or were breastfeeding moms: do you or did you use a breastfeeding pillow and, if so, what kind?
With le Petit, I used a hand-me-down pillow that was a sort of a C-shape and filled with little foam seeds. I liked it because it was small and light and could be shaped to support me differently depending on my position. Alas, the cover ripped apart and it kind of started losing its loft and is now almost useless. I decided to buy another one and, scandalized by the prices charged for something so simple and after much deliberation, got the cheapest one I could find. It is filled with hard stuffing and won't mould to my body, is way too long to wrap around me when I'm sitting, and has a bizarre bump in the middle of the C, exactly where you don't want it to be to correctly position the baby. I'm considering giving it to le Petit to play with and buying a new one that will actually be useful, but... what to get? One of those long sausage-shaped ones that I could potentially use to sleep comfortably during pregnany if we decide to have another kid? Another C-shaped one, but with a more "squishy" design? Any brands to look for? Any brands to avoid?
(It's amazing the new forms of prise de tête you can find when you become a parent, no?)